POLITICS

Ted Cruz praises Michelle Obama for going without head scarf during Saudi visit

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama stand with new Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz they arrive on Air Force One at King Khalid International Airport, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama stand with new Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz they arrive on Air Force One at King Khalid International Airport, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

First Lady Michelle Obama drew a lot of attention for refusing to wear a head cover during her visit with President Barack Obama to Saudi Arabia in recent days to pay respects after King Abdullah's death.

But one of the reactions that stood out among the thousands Michelle Obama received was the one from Sen. Ted Cruz, who hailed the first lady on her sartorial choice.

The Texas Republican, one of President Obama’s most persistent critics, praised the first lady on several of his social media accounts, including Twitter and Facebook.

“Kudos to @FLOTUS for standing up for women & refusing to wear Sharia-mandated head-scarf in Saudi Arabia,” tweeted Cruz, “Nicely done.”

Michelle Obama stepped off of Air Force One wearing long pants and a long, brightly colored jacket — but no head scarf.

Under the kingdom's strict dress code for women, Saudi females are required to wear a headscarf and loose, black robes in public. Most women in Saudi Arabia cover their hair and face with a veil known as the niqab. But covering one's head is not required for foreigners, and some Western women choose to forego the headscarf while in Saudi Arabia.

As a delegation of dozens of Saudi officials — all men — greeted the Obamas in Riyadh, some shook hands with the first lady. Others avoided a handshake but acknowledged the first lady with a nod as they passed by.

Saudi Arabia imposes many restrictions on women on the strict interpretation of Islamic Shariah (shah-REE'-yuh) law known as Wahhabism. Genders are strictly segregated. Women are banned from driving, although there have been campaigns in recent years to lift that ban.

Guardianship laws also require women to get permission from a male relative to travel, get married, enroll in higher education or undergo certain surgical procedures.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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